Spotting Pandemic-linked Scams

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local News

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local News

By: Ashmar Mandou

Pandemic related scams are on the rise, affecting a large portion of immigrants across Chicago that State Attorney General Kwame Raoul held a briefing with community media on Wednesday with the help of the Ethnic Media Services, the Federal Trade Commission, and Legal Aid Chicago to share tips on how to avoid becoming a victim of a scam. “During the pandemic we saw a rise in scams, especially in the Black and Latino communities. Unfortunately, most cases go unreported,” said Attorney General Raoul. “We want the public to know when a problem arises, they can turn to our office for help.” According Todd Kossow, director of the Midwest Region for the FTC, there were over 18,000 cases of pandemic-related scams in Illinois causing a loss of $14 million. “The Black and Latino communities are more exposed to fraud and less likely to report it, according to our data. One of the pandemic-related scams were the promises of in-person visits to various Consulates across the City at a time when office hours were limited due to the coronavirus,” said Kossow. While it can be quite daunting to report a fraud, Kossow and General Raoul encouraged victims to do so as the process can be anonymous. Kossow also shared tips on how to avoid being scammed:

Block unwanted calls and text messages. Take steps to block unwanted calls and to filter unwanted text messages.

Don’t give your personal or financial information in response to a request that you didn’t expect. Legitimate organizations won’t call, email, or text to ask for your personal information, like your Social Security, bank account, or credit card numbers.

If you get an email or text message from a company you do business with and you think it’s real, it’s still best not to click on any links. Instead, contact them using a website you know is trustworthy. Or look up their phone number. Don’t call a number they gave you or the number from your caller ID.

Resist the pressure to act immediately. Legitimate businesses will give you time to make a decision. Anyone who pressures you to pay or give them your personal information is a scammer.

Know how scammers tell you to pay. Never pay someone who insists you pay with a gift card or by using a money transfer service. And never deposit a check and send money back to someone.

Stop and talk to someone you trust. Before you do anything else, tell someone — a friend, a family member, a neighbor — what happened. Talking about it could help you realize it’s a scam.

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